Friday, January 18, 2013

How to use the National Day of Service to help your community get ready

Saturday, Jan. 19, is the fourth annual National Day of Service, a day for Americans to give back to their communities by volunteering for any cause that matters to them. The National Day of Service was created in 2009 to honor the work of Martin Luther King Jr.

If you haven’t decided how you’re going to serve your community, enter your ZIP code on the National Day of Service website to find events near you. Emergency preparedness-related events can be found under the “health” and “community resilience” categories.

If you don’t find a volunteer event near you, consider donating your time to an organization that is working to keep your community ready or to help it recover after an emergency.

The American Red Cross depends on volunteers to do a lot of its emergency relief work — 96 percent of its work is done by volunteers, in fact! Volunteers do everything from helping neighbors after a fire or natural disaster to working at blood drives. Check out our blog post about volunteering during a disaster to get an idea of what it’s like. For more information about volunteering for the Red Cross, visit the organization’s website.

If you want to help your community prepare for emergencies, consider joining a local Community Emergency Response Team. Volunteers receive training in basic emergency response skills, such as fire safety and search and rescue missions. To find a local chapter, enter your ZIP code on the Community Emergency Response Team website.

The Medical Reserve Corps is another way to get involved in your community. The corps has volunteer roles for nurses, doctors and other public health professionals, but also looks for people with different skills, such as communications and logistics. Corps volunteers meet regularly to practice emergency response drills and can be called to respond when a health or other emergency occurs nearby. Learn more about volunteering and look for a chapter near you via the Medical Reserve Corps website.

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